Why Self-Care Isn’t Selfish

In the Western world, we’ve been conditioned that it’s “good” to be busy and ambitious. Prioritizing time to relax still carries a stigma around it, and as a result, many of us struggle with stepping back and saying no. But the more we push through without pausing, the more likely we will burn out.

One way to change this cycle is by developing a preventative self-care practice. Whether you are unsure where to start or just want to reevaluate your existing routine, here are four tips to help break the cycle of being busy:

– Take a breath. If possible, find a place where you can remove yourself from distractions and notice sensations in your body. If you can’t escape, try slowing down your breathing and extending your exhale. Imagine releasing what’s no longer serving you. Deep breathing can help us center and ground ourselves again, and the breath is always available to us.

– Ask yourself What do I need? Whether it’s sleep, exercise, connection, alone time, or something else that feels missing, there’s a reason why it’s coming up. It may feel strange at first to prioritize yourself, but remember: your needs are just as important as the needs of others.

– Make a list of activities that give you personal satisfaction (it doesn’t matter if you’re any good at them). Even if you have a job that is perfectly aligned with your passions, or an ideal home life, it is important to have hobbies outside of work and home. Rediscover an old pastime or take a class you’ve always wanted to – make time for what inspires you.

– Cut yourself some slack! The point of a self-care routine isn’t to create another chore, and there is no need to feel guilty if you get off track sometimes. Return to the practice when you need to and when you can; balance is a lifelong process.

In order to show up fully for ourselves and others, we must learn to take care of ourselves. We deserve it.

If you’re someone who struggles with justifying the time and prioritizing yourself, consider this perspective from acupuncturist, breathwork facilitator and Reiki Master Erin Telford: “When you take care of your spirit and your heart and tend to your wounds, EVERYBODY wins. If you aren’t carrying around decades of emotional pain, anxiety, fear and sadness, you’re going to be nicer to your Uber driver, you’re going to be more available to your friends, your family, your partner, your clients, your kids. Take care of you on every level and everyone benefits. And if for some reason there is still an old program running that says you are selfish and you can’t do it for you, do it for The World! We need you!”

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Photo: Jessica Tam/Flickr

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